The Florida Bar

Daily News Summary

An electronic digest of media coverage of interest to members of The Florida Bar compiled each workday by the Public Information and Bar Services Department. Electronic links are only active in today's edition. For information on previous articles, please contact the publishing newspaper directly.

Links to online newspapers

Feb. 4, 2014

--Legal Profession--

FIVE ATTORNEYS HONORED FOR PRO BONO DEDICATION -- Jacksonville Daily Record,, Feb. 3, 2014.
On Wednesday [Jan. 29], Jacksonville Area Legal Aid held its annual Robert J. Beckham Equal Justice Award event. More than 350 people gathered to support our circuit's commitment to civil legal services for the poor, hear the speeches of Judge William Van Nortwick and Morris Dees, and to applaud the financial and pro bono contributions of so many. Five attorneys were selected to receive the Outstanding Pro Bono Service award in appreciation of the hundreds of hours of pro bono services they provided in 2013.

Considering the morphing concept of diversity and diversity's significance in the legal community, the Jacksonville Bar Association seeks to honor local individuals and employers in the legal industry who champion the ideals embodied in The Florida Bar's diversity principles. The JBA Diversity Awards, sponsored by the Diversity committee, will recognize outstanding efforts by individuals and legal employers that promote diversity by ensuring the full and equal opportunity of all people for entry and advancement in Jacksonville's legal profession. Ideal nominees are individuals or employers who have maintained a long-term commitment to encouraging, increasing and/or retaining diversity in the legal profession. Nominations must be e-mailed to

Known as Pinellas County's toughest and most successful land-use lawyer, Ed Armstrong helped ensure that local hospital patients were well-served and advised some of the county's best-prepared candidates for public office when he wasn't arguing for the rights of land owners. On Monday [Feb. 3] night, Armstrong was named Mr. Clearwater at the 92nd annual meeting of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce. Armstrong has practiced law in Clearwater for 30 years, most often representing developers, but sometimes those who opposed development projects. A victim of polycystic kidney disease, Armstrong has had two kidney transplants. He said he tried to stay involved with work and in the community throughout his illness.


AT FORUM CLUB, JUSTICE ALITO SAYS HE'S OK WITH BEING UNPOPULAR -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription),, Feb. 3, 2014. [Also: JUSTICE ALITO: COURT CAN'T WORRY ABOUT POPULARITY -- Miami Herald,, Feb. 3, 20114; JUSTICE ALITO: PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW MORE ABOUT SUPREME COURT -- Palm Beach Daily News,, Feb. 4, 2014.]
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. spoke to a crowd of 1,120 at a lunch that was co-sponsored by the Palm Beach County Bar Association and the the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on Monday [Feb. 3]. Alito said that the U.S. Supreme Court must “discipline” itself to interpret laws and the Constitution without regard to popular opinion. At another point, Alito said, “It is not for us to decide what we think would be a good rule. We have to discipline ourselves to do what we think the Constitution requires.” Addressing what he said are several common misconceptions about the high court, Alito said only about one-fourth of cases deal with “grand issues of constitutional theory” while most are about interpreting the meaning of statutes.

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA HAS FIVE QUESTIONS FOR JORGE LABARGA -- News Service of Florida (requires subscription),, Jan. 31, 2014.
Jorge Labarga will become the first Cuban-American chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court when he moves into the role July 1. Labarga, who has served on the court for five years, will head the state courts system amid funding questions and episodes of tension with the Legislature. The News Service of Florida has five questions for Jorge Labarga, among those, his goals for his term as chief justice and the significance of being the first Cuban-American to hold the post.

--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--

CONTEMPT OF COURT: FLORIDA'S UNRULY LAWYERS -- Florida Trend (requires subscription),, Jan. 31, 2014.
By the late 1980s, complaints about rude and unprofessional behavior among Florida lawyers had become so frequent that The Florida Bar created a task force to study the problem. After seven years of research, the committee issued a report that described the state of professionalism among lawyers as being in "steep decline." Efforts by the Bar to improve the situation included education programs that stressed the importance of civility. Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis, chairman of the Florida Commission on Professionalism, says the Bar spent the last two years studying the issue and discovered that "every survey that we were able to find listed professionalism as a major problem for most lawyers and judges." Last June, the Florida Supreme Court issued a nine-page decision outlining a more aggressive approach, instructing each of the state's 20 judicial circuits to create professionalism panels, where attorneys, judges and clients can report unprofessional conduct. The panels will screen the complaints and forward serious violations to The Florida Bar, which could lead to sanctions.

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 11 ATTORNEYS -- Daily Business Review,, Feb. 3, 2014. [Also: ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE: 11 IN SOUTH FLORIDA PUNISHED -- South Florida Business Journal,, Feb. 3, 2014.]
The Florida Supreme Court disciplined 11 South Florida attorneys in recent actions brought by The Florida Bar. Of those disciplined, 10 attorneys were suspended and one was publicly reprimanded.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

Column by Mark Schlakman, senior program director for the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, and a former member of the ABA’s eight-person Florida Death Penalty Assessment Team. "Beyond one’s beliefs, attitudes, values, religion, mores or the efficacy and fiscal implications of capital punishment, focusing exclusively upon the fairness, accuracy and impartiality of Florida’s death penalty process, the backdrop is compelling . . . Controversy involving the Timely Justice Act and emphasis upon “efficiency” has seemingly diverted attention from numerous credible studies, like the American Bar Association’s Florida Death Penalty Assessment Team Report (2006), which indicate that Florida’s death penalty process is fraught with problems . . . A comprehensive review of Florida’s entire death penalty process by state officials as contemplated by The Florida Bar Board of Governors arguably is long overdue."

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[Revised: 02-05-2014]